Addressing the constant pressure to schedule less aerification and topdressing.
More common now than ever before, the question of "Why do we have to aerify again?" is being posed by golfers and club officials.
Let's be honest, golfers do not like disturbing the golf course with procedures such as aerification, verticutting, topdressing, etc.
With this being said, what we more commonly end up with is a debate on the subject of aerification (pulling a core); when, how, and how much to integrate into a yearly golf course maintenance plan.
After the discussion on aerification and topdressing, what may occur, surprisingly, is pressure - insistance - that the golf course superintendent do "less" of what the members do not like, and that is aerification, verticutting and topdressing.
All of this while golfers demand the golf course be not only playable, but, tournament ready "every single day of the golfing season."
Keep in mind that these are the same people who put pressure on the superintendent for, "less aerification and visable course maintenance."
What I know is that this is a "trap" that could be fatal for the golf course superintendent, as this request will make the golfers ultimatum for "tournament conditions everyday" almost impossible to attain - long term.
Is is really necessary to aerify and topdress the greens so frequently?
Reseach at Rutgers University, and other institutions, have comfirmed significant benifits of frequent sand topdressing of greens. Frequent meaning light sand topdressing applied to the greens every seven to fourteen days through out the growing season.
Aerification (pulling a plug) is critical to minimizing excessive thatch build up and is very important to provide sufficient oxygen necessary for healthy roots.
Some golf courses, those who have routinely aerified greens (pulled plugs) and greens approaches a minimum of twice a year, are most commonly on target for better turf.
Those courses where there has been little or no aerification of greens, greens approaches, tees, fairways generally have excessive thatch issues.
Excessive thatch (more than 1/2 to 3/4 inch) causes a "spongy" turf that will dry out faster in hot weather and become wet and soft after rain. You cannot have a firm playing surface with excessive thatch - including greens, green approaches, tees, and fairways.
Excuses for not aerifying,and topdressing;
If all of the above excuses are allowed to "get in the way" of scheduling aerification and other important golf course maintenance proceedures, it is only a matter of time before the "grim reaper" will make a visit to your golf course.
We know from experience that courses that cut back (no core aerifications or only one time per year) are heading for long term turf problems.
After not aefifying for a year or two, catching up with aerifying, trying to reduce excessive thatch (more than 3/4 inch), will require four to six aerifications a year for two to three years.
The above statement is very hard for golfers or members to understand and accept - that the golf course superintendent may have to "double up" on aerifcation and thatch reduction as a result of previous "bad decisions" to cut back or minimize course aerifications.
Professional management is the solution when establishing a master plan for golf maintenance;
During the fall months of the year plant to meet with the club manager, events manager, golf pro, golf committee chairman, greens chairman to discuss aerification dates for the following year.
1. First, establish how many times a year the superintendent needs to aerify greens, greens approaches, tees, and fairways.
2. The superintendent then offers his desired dates to aerify the golf course.
3. The golf committee, golf pro, events manager work with the superintendent to accomidate the requested aerification dates.
4. The golf committee sets the clubs "yearly events calendar" working around the desired aerification dates.
5. The club manager identifies selected "Mondays - Tuesdays" are left open (agrees to refran on booking outings on the dates selected for aerification) that will allow selected golf course maintenance practices - aerifying and topdressing greens, greens approaches, tees, and fairways.
6. All involved in the above process agree not to request to modify or change the events schedule, as it pertains to aerification dates, for the following year.
Summary: Eliminating aerifications (pulling a core) for the golf course maintenance schedule will have serious consequenses, at some point in time.